LAYTON, Utah – Groundbreaking ceremonies for the expansion of Weber State University’s Davis campus will take place Nov. 8 at 10:30 a.m. at 2750 N. University Park Blvd., Layton.
Both the groundbreaking and a reception that follows are open to the public.
The expansion, in the form of a 120,146-square-foot second building for the campus, is the result of support from the community, the Davis Chamber of Commerce and local state legislators.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation that authorized funding for the new building in March. Costing more than $39.9 million, the Professional Programs Classrooms Building will open in autumn 2013. It will be east of the campus’ first building, which opened in autumn 2003.
“We’re completely full here,” Bruce Davis, vice provost, said. “There are some additional degree programs we would like to bring out to the community, and we need space for those programs.”
The new building will contain classrooms and laboratories to accommodate nursing, electronics engineering, construction management, interior design and other high-demand programs at WSU Davis. The new building will allow many of those programs to expand.
“We’ve had growing pains that are typical, but all of those things are indicative of a strong demand from our community. We’ve pretty well maxed-out. We’ve actually converted several conference rooms into classrooms and we are using portables in the evenings. We’ve done everything we can to accommodate the need, but really the solution is another building,” Davis said.
Brady Harris, WSU Davis student senator, said he is excited about the new building and how it will improve opportunities for people in the area as classroom space and degree programs expand. “It will open a lot of avenues for people who are wanting to come back to school but don’t have the time, because of work or other things, to drive up to Ogden to go to school,” said Harris, of Farmington, Utah.
Davis said the new building should bolster the already strong ties that WSU Davis has with the community. “This is very much a partnership with the community,” he said.
“This campus wouldn’t exist with the support we’ve received from the community over the years. The degree programs we’re bringing out here are a response to community needs, especially the bachelor of science in electronics engineering in support of Hill Air Force Base, in particular.”
WSU Davis also is positioned to serve the Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park being developed along the western edge of the base. “We support Hill Air Force Base, which is the state’s largest employer, and we support aerospace and defense contractors and industry there. We have a lot of partnerships with business and industry, and the new building will help us meet the needs of those employers.”
The new building also will serve as a permanent home for the Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering & Science (NUAMES). The early-college high school has 450 students and plans to expand to 500. NUAMES currently uses five classrooms and 13 portable classrooms.
NUAMES, which is contributing $4 million to the new-building project, will occupy 14 classrooms during the day, with WSU students using those rooms in the evenings.
“It’s been a good partnership and it will be a nice arrangement we have with them because we have offsetting peaks: They’re busiest in the daytime and we’re busy in the evening, which is when a lot of our professional program degrees have classes,” Davis said.
In addition to academic space, the new building will include student union space funded through a bond financed by $4.4 million in student fees. Other elements include a large food court; a fitness area with classrooms, an area devoted to cardio and weight training, lockers and showers; and event space.
“Right now, we have a small commons area, so we don’t have much space for student activities,” Davis said. “The new building will have a student union component.”
Harris said he is looking forward to the addition of the student union and student services to the campus. Event space also will be a nice element for both the community and for students, who will get “more of that social, enriching experience that’s really missing out here right now,” he said.
Overall, the building will incorporate lots of open space, optimal use of light and interesting architectural features and aesthetics to make it inviting.
The new building symbolizes the continued strong growth of WSU’s Davis campus. Not counting NUAMES, enrollment is at about 3,700 this fall, and more than 150 faculty teach at the facility.
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